You’d be hard-pressed to find a more dynamic and versatile light fixture than the wall sconce. A wall sconce is a type of light that uses only the wall for support and is fixed in such a way that it can direct light in any direction: up, down, sideways or at angles. Wall mounted lights can be used as your room’s primary lighting source, but typically they’re used to support other light sources in setting an overall tone and mood. Small but mighty, wall sconce fixtures can have a big impact on your space. Not only do they provide necessary lighting, but they can also serve as wall art. They’re a great way for you to infuse personality into your space and really bring a room to life. Let’s take a deep dive into the world of wall sconces and see how they can best serve your functional and creative decorating needs.
Why use wall sconce fixtures over a floor lamp or ceiling light?
One of the great things about a wall sconce is that it’s smaller and more discreet than many other types of lighting. Unlike a floor lamp, it doesn’t require any floor space, making it great for smaller spaces or minimalist interior styles that eschew clutter. However, a wall sconce can quite easily carry out the same functionality as floor lamps, particularly with swing arm, recessed, wallchiere and a variety of other sconce styles. Similarly, a wall sconce fixture can be both a more practical and stylistic choice over a ceiling light. A sconce can do a better job lighting up darker and/or more far off corners of a room, as well as add a layer of more flattering and indirect light.
What types of wall sconce fixtures are there?
When it comes to wall sconce lighting, versatility is a key feature. There really is a wall sconce style to meet most any need you may have. Here are several options to consider:
When you need a wash of light up a wall, an uplight sconce will do the trick. This type of sconce works well at providing accent and atmosphere to a space, especially as part of a layered lighting scheme. Hallways, bathrooms or any area of interest you want to highlight can benefit from an uplight.
Though they can also provide an accent effect, downlights are more commonly used to send light down the wall for a practical purpose, such as to light a counter, a sink or the ground below. Downlight sconces work great in kitchens and bathrooms but are versatile in many different applications.
Wall Swing Lamp
This type of wall lamp is designed to be adjustable—you can “swing” the arm to direct light exactly where you want it. It’s best suited when you need a flexible light source that you can easily maneuver. It’s a great option for reading areas, by the bedside and in nurseries.
Bath Vanity Light
Uneven lighting that creates a glare can be problematic when you’re standing in front of the bathroom mirror trying to get ready. Bath vanity lights are designed to emit light evenly and glare-free. This type of lighting works particularly well placed around mirror and sink areas. The right bath vanity light can also go a long way in enhancing the overall style of your bath environment.
Picture and Display Lights
If you’re looking to draw attention to your favorite picture or artwork, a picture or display light makes for an effective option. These types of lights are most often slim, unobtrusive and functional in nature, though some emit a welcome degree of style. Picture and display lights work well in almost any room over paintings, photographs and other works of art. As an added benefit, they also add to the ambiance via the focused light they emit.
Where in your home can you use wall sconce fixtures?
The answer: pretty much anywhere you like. The fact that you can install a wall sconce fixture in virtually any room of your home (and also outside) is another layer of versatility that this type of lighting provides.
The bedroom is a safe and intimate space and the lighting in this room should always reflect that. A pair of wall sconces on each side of the bed frame can eliminate the need for a table/reading lamp and emit the perfect glow. Alternatively, two wall sconces can replace a bedframe altogether. A swing lamp sconce works particularly well for reading in bed. Just be sure to install it so that the arm can reach over the bed and light your reading space.
Generally being one of the largest rooms of the home, living rooms usually require a secondary light source, like a wall sconce. Correctly placed—in a far-off corner, next to an entryway, over a piece of art—they provide additional illumination without being overpowering. Wall sconces in the living room also benefit from adding dimming capability via a dimmer switch.
As mentioned before, wall sconce fixtures work particularly well when placed by a mirror as task lighting. It’s best to install them about sixty inches from the floor, or just around eye level, which will keep them from throwing off any harsh glare. You can install sconces on each side of the vanity. If you happen to have two vanities, install three sconces: one to the left of the left vanity, one between the two vanities and one to the right of the right vanity.
Want to make a glowing impression? Install an eye-catching wall sconce or two in your entryway. Near a foyer table or next to a bench is a great way to highlight key areas of what are typically very small spaces. Sconces work great in stairwells, too, providing needed illumination (and an element of safety) to the stairs and landings without being overpowering.
You’ve probably already noticed just by driving through your own neighborhood that the popularity of outdoor sconces is growing exponentially. They work great around porches, decks, patios and next to the garage, to infuse an exterior with personality and character. Do keep in mind that when installing outdoor wall sconces, if the light globes are open at the top, you’ll need to install them in a spot that is protected from weather elements. It is best to select a sconce that is damp or wet rated for outdoor locations.
What style sconce best suits your home?
You’ll be pleased to know that lighting manufacturers are continually pushing the design narrative of wall sconces. That means you have an increasingly wide array of styles from which to choose. Here are some of the most popular styles of the moment:
Transitional style refers to a mix or melding of both traditional and modern styles. A transitional sconce will tend to be unfussy, elegant and exude a sense of balance. Case-in-point is the Hudson Valley Junius, a single swoop arm fixture with a faceted crystal that has a shape that’s almost swan-like. This is a piece that will add texture and depth to any room it inhabits.
Borrowing from the style of old factories and industrial buildings, the industrial and restoration styles combine the best aspects of old-world charm and stripped-down sleekness. This style of sconce will make exceptional use of metals, rustic finishes and vintage bulbs. The Eglo Wymer 4-Light is perfect for creating that industrial vibe in your bath environment. It’s got a metal frame finished in bronze and flaunts eye-catching Edison-style bulbs that recall a bygone era.
The Scandinavian design movement, characterized by simplicity, minimalism and functionality, emerged in the early 20th century and has since flourished. The clean lines and flowing curved edges of the Ambiance wall sconce by Justice Design Group is perfect for a minimalist home environment inspired by Nordic living.
Airy and upscale. Elegant and luxurious. Glittery and sparkly. Those are just some of the elements that define the glam style of interior lighting. The Alibi wall sconce by Corbett Lighting is a glam wonder with a gold leaf finish and gorgeous beads strung together for a look inspired by vintage pearls. It’s a luxurious and dramatic way to liven up your interior environment with a bit of Old Hollywood style.
Defined by clean lines, organic forms, minimal ornamentation, and high functionality, the mid-century modern style is popular for good reason. This style of sconce has a distinct ability to lend a timeless appeal to a room. The Varaluz Bodie 3-Light bath and vanity sconce takes inspiration from Mid-Century elements with its recycled steel frame and Havana Gold detailing.
As you can see, wall sconce fixtures are perhaps the most versatile light source you can bring into your home. The small but mighty sconce can address your unique needs, be it ambient, task, accent or wall washing-style lighting. As you prepare to enhance your home decor, be sure to take into consideration all of the different ways wall sconce fixtures can fit into your plans.